I have been having quite a few of those days. Ah, you know those days I’m talking about! Those days when all you can do is look at your toes and scuffle along. Those days when you feel like the process of looking upward is just too difficult. Or so it seems. That the sun is too bright, the colours too harsh, the sky too grey, the view too grim. I have been looking anywhere but up. At anything but the long range view. And that is interesting to me because the far and away, the upwards bound, the endless sky is just where I must set my sights to get out of this slump. But breaking old habits are hard to do.
Sometimes it just takes a little reminder.
I recently had all four kiddos in to see the eye doctor. One needs glasses. Another cried because she was not able to “see” the test as clearly as she would like. She thought she had “failed” and this is not a child who fails at very much, particularly in the test department. Another was squirmy, garnering a few comments from the staff about how “busy” she must be. Ahem. As if I needed that reminder. All in all, it was a typical outing complete with tears, smiles and a few glitches here and there. As I discussed my concerns and questions with the optometrist, I asked him for any helpful hints he might pass along to help my children better look after their eyes, bearing in mind that they read hours on end. What he gave us for advice was interesting.
He’s Aussie, so read this with an Australian accent.
He said, “After every half an hour of reading, you need to give your eyes a break and look outside at the crows and seagulls.” Hmmm. Not exactly what I was looking for, but I’ll work with it. And as I wanted to make clarification on what he might mean by this, I added a few explanations to this statement so that the children would get it, because I was having a wee bit of trouble with it myself. But it was his own personal clarification that really hit home the message for me. He said that what our eyes really need is the opportunity to set their sights on something far, far away, something high in the sky- so as to relax those eye muscles and give our brains a break from the very hard work of concentrating and viewing.
I love it when someone else gives my kids advice because they listen so much better to other adults than they often do to me. It must have to do with the change in cadence and tone. Perhaps a touch more patience and kindness doesn’t hurt things either. And I admit my words and advice have been rather harsh of late. But it is not always that I listen to that same advice and allow myself to take a piece of it to heart. I cannot stop thinking about his advice. To look far and away. To look up, rather than down. To give my eyes a break (the eyes are the window to the soul, are they not?).
In looking up, can there really be rest?
Tonight as I sit here, I know that my soul needs the rest afforded from some long range viewing. I’ve been looking at things that are too close range and doing so for far too long. It is time for some far sighted viewing. And I will start with what I saw through new eyes today as I was en route from various errands I was running this afternoon.
I first looked up today as I was driving home from the local amusement park so as to start supper. The temptation was to keep my eyes on the road and my mind focused on the task at hand. A worthy task, so would say my husband! But something compelled me. To look up. To look for something distant and allow my eyes to relax.
And what I saw when I did so were the most beautiful cloud formations I have ever seen. They were spectacular today, represented in fine form from the very lowest to the lofty strands that touch the heavens. The fluffy clumps of cumulus clouds, looking like cotton balls from a socialite’s boudoir. Altocumulus and altostratus sandwiched between wispy cirrus. It was all so breathtaking. I nearly drove the van off the road. Stunning! A view to the heavens unmatched by anything below. A feast for the eyes, a rest for the soul. My eyes needed to look up, and in so doing, I found that kind of beauty that is unmatched in the universe. A glorious display of shapes and sizes. Medicine for the downcast spirit.
It is hard to discipline our eyes and our souls to look up. It takes constant reminders and lots of practice. Looking down is easy because that is where we live our lives. In the here and now, the down-to-earth sensibility of the present. But being in the present and failing to remember that life is all-encompassing deprives us of well-needed restoration for our body, mind and soul. We need to look up.
A sometimes it takes a cloud to get our attention.